A/n: This idea came out of nowhere, and totally shocked me at the thought of it, since I never usually write anything so tragic. However, I really loved the idea of it, and just had to write it. The idea is that this is set after The Return: Midnight. If you haven't read that book, do not read on any further! The idea is playing on the fact that instead of Damon saving Bonnie from the tree and 'dying' himself, he doesn't get there fast enough, and she really does die. This is the aftermath, focusing on how Damon deals with it all. Reviews are very welcomed!

Just Let Go.

They were talking about him, again. He could hear it. Just because he'd stopped acting much like a vampire - in fact, stopped acting anything much at all - didn't mean Damon's senses weren't as sharp as ever. Their voices crashed over him, like a wave, bringing with it only more numbness. But that was okay, he decided. Numb was better than pain. Anything was better than that.

There was concern in their voices, the vampire realized. It was almost comical, not that he knew the meaning of that anymore. Why hadn't they given up yet? Hadn't they realized he was simply a lost cause? As though they'd been reading his thoughts, Damon listened as the conversation carried on, voices being raised a little now.

"Elena, love, just listen to me. I know you want to help, but this time, I don't think you can. He's too far gone."

"No, Stefan! I'm not just giving up on him! I wouldn't give up on you. He wouldn't give up on me, or you. I refuse to believe Damon's in such a state, that he's beyond reach." The high pitched voice of an angel, one that always reminded the vampire of a wind chime, tinkling away. It was louder this time though, tone more urgent, eager to do something, anything to make him see...

"Elena, listen to me. I understand you want to help, I understand everything, but some people... Well, in the case of Damon, he is simply too lost to be saved." And there it was, the omniscient, powerful, firm yet gentle voice of his brother. He'd given in quicker than Damon would have initially thought, but perhaps he didn't care, didn't want to save him.

The next words were spoken by Elena, so quietly that even Stefan had trouble hearing in the same room, whereas Damon was listening from upstairs. Their differences in diets helped there, though, and he was just able to make out a small murmur of, "I'm sorry, Stefan, but I'm not giving up on him. Never."

And then there were footsteps, heading his way. Damon didn't react; didn't try to move. He just sat there, staring vacantly into space. Even when the door opened, and the head of a blonde haired beauty appeared, there was nothing. No sign of recognition; not even a look. He may as well have been a mere empty shell.

"Hey, Damon." The words were spoken softly, gently, as Elena sat down on the bed next to him, blue eyes filled with worry. She sighed slightly when there was no reply, but didn't give up then. "I got you this," the girl informed, gesturing to a bottle of blood. Never, in all his life, had Damon Salvatore drank from a blood bank. It had to be fresh, he'd decided, many years ago. But that Damon was gone. This Damon refused to feed, up until the very last second, when the need for blood became too much. Then he'd drink the contents of the bottle, and for just one moment, he could feel. Could feel the pain, and the disappointment at what he'd become. And then it all went away once it was done, and the vampire went back to his usual, vacant state, until the next time that blood lust gripped him.

Elena sighed again, running a hand through her hair. "I'm trying, Damon, really I am. But I just don't know what to do. Meredith found something on the internet, about when people go like this, when they've suffered a great loss. Severe cases may never be solved, but most are with therapy, but...well, no therapist is going to be suited to a vampire. You can talk to us ,though. Well, me..." When there was no response, Elena reached out, putting a gentle hand on his arm. Damon flinched at the first contact he'd had in goodness knows how long, but remained silent. "I know you're grieving - we all are, just not in the same way, I guess. But you can't keep on like this forever. She wouldn't want - "

The girl was cut off, as Damon leapt to his feet, knocking the bottle of blood to the floor. "You have no idea of what she would want! You didn't know her, not the way I did. You were too blind to even see how she felt for me, how I felt for her!" His voice was slightly hoarse but relatively loud for someone who hadn't spoken since returning from the Dark Dimensions.

Now it was Elena's turn to flinch, yet she couldn't help but be excited and encouraged by the fact that finally, they had something. "That's not fair, Damon," she said quietly, staring at the floor. Upon impulse though, she jumped up, standing in front of him and putting a hand on each of his arms. "She was my friend, Damon. I might have not seen what you had together, but I know enough to say she wouldn't want this for you."

That was it, the moment Damon snapped. He didn't know why that phrase in particular triggered it, just that it did, bringing everything tumbling down. He flew at Elena, pushing her into the wall, obsidian black eyes meeting her Lapis Lazuli ones for the first time since all of this began. "Bonnie McCullough is dead, and it's all my fault. If I had gotten to the tree quicker, or if I hadn't travelled with her to the Dark Dimensions in the first place, she would be alive. So yes, I'm feeling, Elena, just like you always wanted. And you know what? It sucks!" The vampire was shouting now, every thought, every feeling, every emotion he'd been holding back for too long coming flooding out. "So excuse me if I'm not jumping around for joy that the girl I loved is dead! I lost her, just like I lost everyone else. Katherine. Stefan, a long time ago. Even you. Everyone leaves eventually…but it's too soon, always too soon. And this is exactly why I never let myself get involved, to feel anything. Because they're only going to leave me again!" Damon pounded his wrist into the wall, gritting his teeth as his eyes met Elena's.

They had changed. At first, they'd been filled with fear but now, only sadness and pity consumed her blue orbs. The vampire, realizing what he had done, took a step backwards, looking much like a small child; vulnerable, confused, and alone. Elena opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. Before she could regain her voice, the girl's attention was drawn away from Damon. Stefan rushed into the room, green eyes filled with anger as he wrapped his arms around Elena, eyes scanning hers, making sure she was okay. "If you ever touch her, I swear to god…" he began, looking to his brother, but cut off at the girl's protests. Instead, he just shook his head, leading Elena in the direction of the door. "I hope you know this will be the last time you see Elena, until you get yourself sorted. You have some serious issues," he snarled.

Damon hadn't moved from his position, watching them, expression stunned and confused still, watching as yet another girl he cared for in his life was taken away. She wasn't going without a fight, though - Elena was struggling against Stefan's iron clad grip, though it was clearly futile; a mere human against a vampire wasn't a fair match. Eventually, she gave in, but not before she could shout "You haven't lost me!"

The words barely registered with Damon, though, as he watched his brother and Elena disappear. He sank down onto the bed, but found that now he'd exited his vacant state, it was hard to go back to it, hard to stay still. He paced. He rocked back and forth on the bed. He looked out the window, wondering what it would be like, to do as Katherine had made them think she'd done all those centuries ago; take off his ring, and simply burn. That was when the idea came to him.

It was ridiculous, all of this, Damon thought. This state was pointless. It wasn't going to bring Bonnie back. But he couldn't live with the guilt; of knowing that for once, he'd fallen for someone who he could have. His love for Elena was still as consuming as ever, but he couldn't have her. He couldn't, however much he tried, however many moments they shared. It was Stefan. It was always going to be Stefan.

But Bonnie. Bonnie, he could have. Bonnie, so timid, sweet, innocent and yet with a fiery streak when necessary. Bonnie, whose cheeks were filled with a lovely pink tint whenever he was near, a colour that showed how beautiful she was; how alive she was. Bonnie, who, unlike Elena, had literally crept up on him. He'd never he wanted her, not like with Elena. It was just one day, when he looked up into those hazel eyes, he'd seen something different; seen her differently. And after that, nothing between them had ever been the same.

She was his Redbird, and it was only now, in the time of her demise, that he realized quite how much he'd fallen for her. He wasn't just fond of her - he loved her. And he never got the chance to say it. A world without Bonnie wasn't right; it wasn't possible. It was like all the light had gone out of his life. A life without Bonnie, would surely be a dark, twisted torture. A life without Bonnie, was not worth living.

And all at once, Damon's decision was made. Although he didn't really believe in all this Heaven and Hell stuff - after all, the afterlife he lived wasn't exactly how they described it in the Bible and such - he was certain that somewhere, somehow, Bonnie still existed. It was impossible for someone so pure, so innocent, so imperfect on perfect levels, to not exist somehow. And maybe, just maybe, they'd find each other again. If they didn't? Well, he could only hope he'd spend eternity too far gone to notice a thing. Or maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't feel anything, wouldn't know anything. He'd be gone, just like that; only a rotting body and a long ago destroyed soul.

Dark, obsidian eyes scanning the room, the vampire's gaze soon fixed upon his destination. The old, paneled wardrobe. Punching through it at superhuman speed, Damon pulled out a panel of wood, smashing it a few times against the wall to sharpen it. His mind wasn't altogether as he went to the bed, lying down, ready for his death. In fact, he barely saw the door opening, Elena running in, face constricting with terror as she saw what he was about to do.

"Damon, n-" she began, but before she could finish, he acted.

The makeshift stake plummeted into his heart, meeting its target. Damon's body slumped immediately, eyes rolling back into his head momentarily. Elena rushed over to him, sobbing and crying out his name, mingled with 'no' and 'why?', as she cradled him in her arms. "Damon, no, no.. Please don't die, please don't die. Don't leave me! You can't die, no, no… I-I love you!"

That caught the slowly withering vampire's attention. His eyes managed to focus, meeting her blue ones, surprise in them. Yes, he'd known all along she loved him; she'd shown him it, all but told him it, and the gentle touch told him everything, but saying it out loud like that, with such passion, and in front of Stefan also - for his brother had followed just behind the girl - was a whole different story.

"And I love you. Don't cry, princess," Damon croaked, reaching out a hand to try and wipe away her tears. It didn't work, though - she seemed to be going further away with every inch he moved closer.

Elena just shook her head, more tears escaping. "Don't try to talk, love. Just rest," she murmured, voice shaking as she let a hand stroke his cheek. "It'll be over soon."

"Over soon," Damon repeated, closing his eyes, relaxing into her touch. Then, something bizarre began to happen. Even though his eyes were closed, a scene appeared in front of him. White light, surrounding a girl like an angel. And she was. It was her, the image of the girl who had haunted his every waking - and sleeping - moment for the past god knows how long. She smiled, her red hair hanging in waves down her body.

"You see? You are loved, Damon, just like I always said. Even Stefan is here with you now, and so am I. Elena too, of course. I-I love you, Damon. I know that now. You'll be with me soon, if that's what you want. Just let go." Her words were musical as always, like a chirrup - a chirrup of a bird. His Redbird. Her cheeks were glowing red at her confession - glowing with light. Nothing had changed, then - she was still the same old Bonnie. And she loved him, just as he loved her. Let go. You'll be with me soon, if that's what you want. I love you, Damon. Just let go. Just. Let. Go.

With the first smile seen on his face in ages, the vampire murmured, "My Redbird." And then, he did as she said - he let go. With a small, contented sigh, his body lay still. Damon Salvatore, was dead - gone to another place, a world where he could be with his Bonnie forever. A world where, surely, he would fit in much better than he ever had in his own.